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 Category:  Biographical Non-Fiction
  Posted: November 2, 2020      Views: 81
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BethShelby is retired from the printing and commercial art field. She is married and has four children and three grandchildren. She and her husband presently live in Tennessee.

Painting, photography, and writing are her passion. She has ha - more...

She is an accomplished novelist and is currently at the #6 spot on the rankings.

She is an accomplished poet and is currently at the #39 spot on this years rankings.

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Chapter 75 of the book Remembering Yesterday
The children are getting older and ready to leave home.
"First Bird to Leave the Nest" by BethShelby

Don is in eleventh grade. He is just sixteen but he wanted to attend a boarding school over 500 miles away. Connie is ready for preschool. Carol will be graduating.

For new readers, who may not have read my author notes. this is written in a conversational way as I talk to my deceased husband. When I refer to someone just as "you" this means I am addressing my husband, Evan.

After school ended in May of 1978, Don wanted to have the cosmetic surgery on his nose that Carol had had earlier, so we let him get it. On the day of the surgery, he became nervous when we took him in to have his blood-work done. He had never had blood drawn before, and he stared at the tube as it filled with red liquid. We had to take him up several floors for the surgery. He made it into the elevator before his knees buckled under him and he hit the floor. He was fine, but as his mother, I couldn’t keep my stomach from churning, until he was safely returned to us. He looked like the victim of a bar fight, but was bandaged and ready to go home. It took a few days for the swelling and bruising to subside, but he was very happy with his new nose. I had to admit, it did make him quite handsome. 

In June, Connie celebrated her fifth birthday. Now that she was five, she would be going to preschool in the fall. Connie had made friends with the two little girls who lived across the street. One of them, Roxanne, had been born the same week as Connie. Her sister’s name was Rhonda. Often, the two of them came over to play.  A boy named Jonathan and his older sister, Judy, lived next door. Jonathan was close to Connie's age. Sometimes, he played with Connie. I remember one day he kept bugging you while you were trying to paint the trim on the house. You threatened to dump paint on him, if he didn't stop bothering you.

Don had a brass sword with a Spanish emblem hanging in his room.  He had persuaded me to buy it when we were at a garage sale. One day, Connie decided to get the sword, which was nearly as big as she was, so she could show it to Jonathan. She didn’t ask permission from anyone, but when you saw her running across our yard and dragging the sword behind her, you freaked out. Connie was fortunate that she didn't cut herself. After that, we kept the sword sheathed and hanging higher.

The fall semester would be Carol's final year in high school. She would finish in December of that year, since she would have taken the required classes, but the graduation ceremony would be in the Spring of 1979. We had a decision to make about Don. Some of his friends from church would be attending Ozark Academy in North Arkansas, which was the approved school for the Louisiana/Arkansas conference of our church. His friends, their parents, and our pastor were all encouraging us to send the twins to that school. Christi was satisfied to continue at Grace King, and we were convinced that she was not ready to leave home. We weren’t sure that Don was ready either, but he pleaded with us to let him go. His best friend would be going.

The students were encouraged to work on campus, which would help toward their room and board. If Don attended he would be assigned a job on the maintenance crew. The main drawback was that the school was over 500 miles from New Orleans. One reason they wanted him to go was to spread cost of transportation by having another student on the bus, which transported students to and from on breaks, We finally agreed to let him see if he could handle being that far from home.

We needed to be there to register him as a student and get him settled in the dormitory. In August, we took the van to drop Don off at school. He would be the first to leave home, and we wouldn’t see him again until the first break in October. Since the drive was so long, we planned on making it our vacation trip for the summer. Once again,we planned it as a camping trip, since the last one had worked out well.

We drove to Hot Springs and spent our first night at a KOA campground. We had been to Hot Springs several times, and we enjoyed seeing the town again and driving up the mountain above the city. We visited and explored the Pea Ridge Military park near Garfield, Arkansas. There was a Civil War homestead to explore. We also went through a cave, which upset Connie, since she couldn’t handle dark places. That night we stayed at a KOA park near Eureka Springs. We visited a place where there was a giant statue known as Christ of the Ozarks. This is a place where a well known passion play is presented. Unfortunately, our schedule didn’t allow us to include that. 

On our final night before dropping Don off at school, we found a Jellystone Campground near Branson, Mo. This was a favorite for all the kids, especially Connie. They had a lot activities for the family. Connie got to ride around with Yogi Bear in a little red car. That night there was a hayride which we all went on. There was also an outdoor movie, and later fireworks. The town of Branson was just starting to become the  place to vacation, for those who enjoy country music. Now many people choose Branson as their vacation destination. There are many country shows to see that weren't there in the 70's.

It was finally time to drop Don off for his school year. The campus seemed like it would be a pleasant and safe place for our son’s first experience away from the family. We went in to help Don register and advise on which classes he should take to prepare him for college. We helped him get situated and met his roommate, Lowell,  a part-Indian boy form Enid, Oklahoma. He was very polite and seemed to be a nice kid. We said our goodbyes and left, dreading the the long drive ahead of us.

Back home in Metairie, our next task was to get our last child ready for her adventure into the world of education. I bought her some cute school clothes and all the materials required for a preschooler. and  I went with her on her first day and met one of the moms, who had a little girl Connie’s age. Jennifer was the child’s name and she and Connie would become friends. They were neighbors from four houses down.

Since preschoolers only went to school until noon, I needed someone to keep Connie in the afternoon, until the girls got home. Jennifer's mom, Lisa, told me that her next door neighbor, who also had a young daughter, would love to keep another child. She introduced me to Dianne, who was a very sweet lady. Diane agreed to keep Connie, and Lisa agreed to make sure our daughters got safely on and off the bus each day. 

We called Don, and he seemed happy with his new surroundings. He liked his roommate and also the man who would be supervising his campus job. Don would be helping him do some construction work. There were several girls interested in him. One girl, named Loraine, was mentioned several times. We were dismayed to learn he had changed the classes I had marked for him to take. He had dropped history and typing was taking auto mechanics and some other course, which he didn’t need. He said that he and some of the guys planned to go caving and mountain climbing. We were starting to have second thoughts about whether or not we’d made a wise decision.

In October, we were counting on his first trip home and anxious to meet the bus after the 10-hour journey back to Metairie. Then we got a frantic phone call. He had missed the bus. He was supposed to be there at six a.m., and he was late. They left without him. We were as upset as Don, but had no idea what could be done.

The school called us soon afterward, offering an apology. They said the bus driver was at fault, because he had strict instructions to call the roll and not leave until he was sure he had all the students returning to Metairie. The school decided to fly him home at their expense. We met the plane at the airport. Our son arrived home five hours before the other students made it back.


The book continues with More of Life in the Seventies. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
I'm continuing to recall memories of life with my deceased husband as if I am talking aloud to him. I'm doing this because I want my children to know us as we knew each other and not just as their parents.
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